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F30 / F31 / F32 / F33 / F36 (2012 - current)
The sixth generation 3 series, chassis code F30. 2013 model year 328i and 335i sedans now in production. Read the F30 frequently asked question thread for all your basic question and dive into all the details in the ultimate F30 information thread.

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  #1  
Old 03-19-2013, 06:20 PM
DJ Vitamin Zee DJ Vitamin Zee is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2013
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Mein Auto: 2005 330i 6mt
My first F30 (328i) test drive

I currently drive a Celica for my 45-mile commute each way: 32mpg highway, reliable, and good handling though not much giddy-up. I've always preferred handling over raw power anyway so it's been fine. Now I'm ready for an upgrade in luxury, and I also miss driving manual, so I was really hoping a manual 328i would hit the sweet spot in terms of luxury, sportiness, and fuel efficiency. I love BMWs though I am not really an aficionado.

I give that background because I don't mean for this to become another 328i vs. 335i (or F30 vs. E9x vs. E46) thread -- I see plenty of those around. I was just surprised that I found the 328i manual a little under-powered especially at low RPMs, especially given that I'm not someone who normally craves power. I mean, I know it's an efficient turbo-4 so I didn't expect too much, and it was still a great test-drive. But I see so many folks on this board saying that the 328i has all the power you will need, so I was expecting a bit more considering that most of the folks here are probably pickier about their cars than I am. :-)

I'm still leaning towards buying one (or perhaps waiting for the 2-series) because it may be the best all-around car for my needs, but at the end of the test drive I felt like it was the type of car I didn't *need* to have in manual, because it didn't quite have the sportiness that a manual would take advantage of. I've been driving my lighter, smaller, lower Celica for a long time so that may have something to do with it. It's definitely more car than I'm used to driving on a daily basis. Maybe I babied it too much during the test drive and didn't give it enough gas. I don't have lots of experience with BMWs, but I've driven my wife's '87 325, my friend's 2004 manual 330ci, and a 2010 automatic 328xi wagon. All of them seemed to have better giddy-up.

I didn't have enough time to test drive the automatic, and will go do this sometime soon, but I was curious if others had considered the manual first and then opted for the auto after test driving? Or for those who are manual lovers and got the 328i in manual, do you have any reservations or feel compromised in any way? Should I expect the power curve to feel differently in the auto? If so, perhaps I will wait for the 328d which could be a great commuter car if I can convince myself that I don't need a manual.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts...
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  #2  
Old 03-19-2013, 06:49 PM
Jamesonsviggen Jamesonsviggen is offline
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Mein Auto: '98 M E36/7:'06 Saab 9-5
What modes did you drive it in? Only Sport mode gives you can accurate indication of getup for all throttle inputs aside from wot.
Secondly, how fresh was the car, the n20 loosens up a fair bit after 1000-1500 miles.

Also, it might not feel fast due to a power delivery that lacks a lump. My Saabs hit hard with torque and felt fast even though they were slower than the 328. 0-60 in the mid 5's, it is what it is. In reality it is far faster than the xdrive wagon you drove, its just about perceived speed.

I also find I can bore myself in the car by driving it like a grandma. Then I drive it in anger and even get wheels chirping on the 2-3 shift, and nit reminds me what its made of.
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E36/7: Dinan/RMS stage 2+ blower@11-16lbs of BOOST! 18" BBS LM's, too much more to list
F30: 6mt, SOLD

'06 Saab 9-5 wagon 5mt AERO+ TUNED

Last edited by Jamesonsviggen; 03-19-2013 at 06:54 PM.
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  #3  
Old 03-19-2013, 10:10 PM
Geekenstein Geekenstein is offline
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Mein Auto: 2013 328i
I test drove an automatic and loved it, but I thought a manual might be even better, so I was kind of sitting on the fence for a while. But I'm glad I went with the manual.

It was surprising to me too how the acceleration wasn't very impressive until you grab 2nd gear. But it does seem to get better with time. Not sure if it's just a matter of practice and getting accustomed to the clutch, or if the engine loosens up and actually gets more powerful. There's also the mysterious "adaptive throttle" which may or may not cause some lag until it adapts to your driving style. It's a topic of much debate.

So yeah, I would recommend a manual. If you turn off the stability control, the 328 can be plenty scary on public roads. Power through some curves in 2nd gear and the rear will step out on you in a surprisingly twitchy way for such a big car. If the pavement is just slightly damp it can happen in 3rd gear. Even with the stability control on, it's still fun. The confidence it gives you just lets you take curves even faster and still feel safe, particularly on unfamiliar roads or in city driving.
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  #4  
Old 03-19-2013, 11:20 PM
DJ Vitamin Zee DJ Vitamin Zee is offline
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Mein Auto: 2005 330i 6mt
Thanks for the feedback. I'm an idiot because I totally forgot about the different driving modes. And the salesman is an idiot for not bringing it to my attention during the test drive. So I must have been driving in comfort mode. Guess I'm going back for another test drive. :-)

Tried to search for how sport mode affects fuel consumption, but couldn't find any hard numbers. I'm happy to take an mpg hit around town but hopefully it doesn't affect freeway numbers much.

The car only had 300 miles on it. It also had the sport package but not the m-adaptive suspension, which I would probably get. It was the only manual my local dealer had on the lot.

One other question: With the upcoming 228i also getting the N20, how would folks guess the driving dynamics will compare to the 328i? Will a few inches shorter and a few hundred pounds lighter make much of a difference? The 328 is a bit bigger than I really need for a commuter car, though I do prefer sedans over coupes and I can justify it because of the fuel efficiency. In reality, the rumored 2-seres Gran Coupe might be the perfect size for me, but I don't think I can wait that long.
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  #5  
Old 03-20-2013, 12:41 AM
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BmwFlooner BmwFlooner is offline
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Mein Auto: 13' 335i M-Sport 6MT
I picked up my 328i MT as my family wagon a few weeks ago and I'm still breaking it in. Before that I was driving an Eclipse MT. I love manuals - the connection to the car, the skill test, the smooth ride. For me it's not about performance or being sporty, I just love the mechanics of it. But I really debated getting the 328i auto, thinking the paddle shifters could be a "manual light" for when I found myself missing it. Ultimately after test driving the auto I knew I'd just be happier with the manual.

I initially had the same feeling as you that first gear felt a little flat. But as the weeks pass I've lost that feeling, and there are probably several reasons for that.
- I'm continuing to learn the car and getting familiar with the clutch and I'm better at making the car 'go' now.
- The parts are breaking in.
- I'm no longer comparing it to my beloved Eclipse. The Eclipse didn't exactly explode out of the gate, but it was much more vocal about speed. The Eclipse screamed "WE'RE GOING 70 RIGHT NOW!" where the 328i casually mentions "By the way, we passed 70 a few seconds ago...." I'm probably faster off the green light with my 328i, but it doesn't feel that way.

I'm only driving in Comfort right now while I break it in and learn the car. I'm saving Sport for when break in is complete and it's time to open it up, so I'm looking forward to that. But Comfort is where I'll spend most of my time anyway because I can't be bothered to hit "Sport" every time I hop in the car. I don't feel Comfort wants for power at all. Sport will be fun.

I had reservations about getting the manual - bigger car, quieter engine, wife driving it, ....wife driving it. But I'm glad I went with it anyway. I'm having a lot of fun with it.
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  #6  
Old 03-20-2013, 01:18 AM
DJ Vitamin Zee DJ Vitamin Zee is offline
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Location: United States
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
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Mein Auto: 2005 330i 6mt
Quote:
Originally Posted by BmwFlooner View Post
wife driving it, ....wife driving it.
LOL, thanks for the informative and entertaining post. The first BMW I drove was the '87 325 that my wife had when we met. The odometer eventually broke at 220k and she kept driving it until '07 when our daughter was born and she was forced (by me) into something newer and safer. We still kept it around as a third car though until last year when it needed too much work to justify. The rest of the car was falling apart, but the engine was still rock solid and that manual was still quite fun to drive. My wife cried as they took it away.
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  #7  
Old 03-20-2013, 07:19 AM
Jamesonsviggen Jamesonsviggen is offline
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Mein Auto: '98 M E36/7:'06 Saab 9-5
Well, there is your answer, drive the car in Sport!

You can get the same MPG in sport if you pay attention to it. The modes largely dampen the throttle, so if your foot is being clever it can do the same thing.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DJ Vitamin Zee View Post
Thanks for the feedback. I'm an idiot because I totally forgot about the different driving modes. And the salesman is an idiot for not bringing it to my attention during the test drive. So I must have been driving in comfort mode. Guess I'm going back for another test drive. :-)

Tried to search for how sport mode affects fuel consumption, but couldn't find any hard numbers. I'm happy to take an mpg hit around town but hopefully it doesn't affect freeway numbers much.

The car only had 300 miles on it. It also had the sport package but not the m-adaptive suspension, which I would probably get. It was the only manual my local dealer had on the lot.

One other question: With the upcoming 228i also getting the N20, how would folks guess the driving dynamics will compare to the 328i? Will a few inches shorter and a few hundred pounds lighter make much of a difference? The 328 is a bit bigger than I really need for a commuter car, though I do prefer sedans over coupes and I can justify it because of the fuel efficiency. In reality, the rumored 2-seres Gran Coupe might be the perfect size for me, but I don't think I can wait that long.
__________________

E36/7: Dinan/RMS stage 2+ blower@11-16lbs of BOOST! 18" BBS LM's, too much more to list
F30: 6mt, SOLD

'06 Saab 9-5 wagon 5mt AERO+ TUNED
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  #8  
Old 03-20-2013, 09:09 AM
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BmwFlooner BmwFlooner is offline
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Location: Texas
 
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Mein Auto: 13' 335i M-Sport 6MT
Quote:
Originally Posted by DJ Vitamin Zee View Post
LOL, thanks for the informative and entertaining post. The first BMW I drove was the '87 325 that my wife had when we met. The odometer eventually broke at 220k and she kept driving it until '07 when our daughter was born and she was forced (by me) into something newer and safer. We still kept it around as a third car though until last year when it needed too much work to justify. The rest of the car was falling apart, but the engine was still rock solid and that manual was still quite fun to drive. My wife cried as they took it away.
I'd still be driving my '01 Eclipse if it could fit a child seat and didn't get rear ended every 2 months. My wife *can* drive a manual, but she doesn't do it often enough that I don't fear for my clutch when she heads out.

One thing I forgot to mention re: manual vs auto -- you're probably more likely to use the Auto Start System if you pick the manual (if you care to use it that is), you'll have more control over when it Starts/Stops.
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  #9  
Old 03-20-2013, 10:48 AM
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SergioK SergioK is offline
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Mein Auto: HP2Sport - R1200GS - F30
Quote:
Originally Posted by DJ Vitamin Zee View Post
Or for those who are manual lovers and got the 328i in manual, do you have any reservations or feel compromised in any way?
Absolutely not.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DJ Vitamin Zee View Post
Should I expect the power curve to feel differently in the auto?
Yes, the car will most definitely feel different with an automatic, not only are the gears different ratios (8 speed vs 6), but the torque converter acts as a buffer between the engine and drivetrain, something that does NOT happen with a manual transmission.

I've driven an N20 powered car with the 8 speed automatic transmission and it's fine, if my wife were to drive it. She wouldn't mind the automagic trans. Me, no thank you. I'll stick with my stick.
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  #10  
Old 03-20-2013, 08:35 PM
woodswatchco woodswatchco is offline
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Location: Tampa, FL.
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 228
Mein Auto: 2013 328i 6sp manual
I think you got some good feedback already but here is my take. I too feel that the manual is a little flat in 1st gear. I have a 328i M Sport line with 1000 miles on it now. It has seemed to loosen up a lot since new. 2nd through 5th gear are amazing. If you weren't impressed with your test drive, you definitely didn't have it in sport or sport plus mode. It is truly a 4 cylinder with the power and smoothness of a 6 cylinder. I really feel like from 20-100 mph it can keep up with any car under that has under 400hp and costs under $60k. Maybe it can't beat everything but it will not be embarrassed! If you are a performance guy, definitely plan on getting the Burger Motor Sport tuner box. It adds 45hp for $379 and plugs in in minutes and can be removed just as easily. I'm only waiting to get my car past the break in period to get one.




Quote:
Originally Posted by DJ Vitamin Zee View Post
I currently drive a Celica for my 45-mile commute each way: 32mpg highway, reliable, and good handling though not much giddy-up. I've always preferred handling over raw power anyway so it's been fine. Now I'm ready for an upgrade in luxury, and I also miss driving manual, so I was really hoping a manual 328i would hit the sweet spot in terms of luxury, sportiness, and fuel efficiency. I love BMWs though I am not really an aficionado.

I give that background because I don't mean for this to become another 328i vs. 335i (or F30 vs. E9x vs. E46) thread -- I see plenty of those around. I was just surprised that I found the 328i manual a little under-powered especially at low RPMs, especially given that I'm not someone who normally craves power. I mean, I know it's an efficient turbo-4 so I didn't expect too much, and it was still a great test-drive. But I see so many folks on this board saying that the 328i has all the power you will need, so I was expecting a bit more considering that most of the folks here are probably pickier about their cars than I am. :-)

I'm still leaning towards buying one (or perhaps waiting for the 2-series) because it may be the best all-around car for my needs, but at the end of the test drive I felt like it was the type of car I didn't *need* to have in manual, because it didn't quite have the sportiness that a manual would take advantage of. I've been driving my lighter, smaller, lower Celica for a long time so that may have something to do with it. It's definitely more car than I'm used to driving on a daily basis. Maybe I babied it too much during the test drive and didn't give it enough gas. I don't have lots of experience with BMWs, but I've driven my wife's '87 325, my friend's 2004 manual 330ci, and a 2010 automatic 328xi wagon. All of them seemed to have better giddy-up.

I didn't have enough time to test drive the automatic, and will go do this sometime soon, but I was curious if others had considered the manual first and then opted for the auto after test driving? Or for those who are manual lovers and got the 328i in manual, do you have any reservations or feel compromised in any way? Should I expect the power curve to feel differently in the auto? If so, perhaps I will wait for the 328d which could be a great commuter car if I can convince myself that I don't need a manual.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts...
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